Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bible Study: John 14:15-21 Gaze of Grace

I may not have a weekly pulpit but I can still study the lectionary and offer comment.  So I'm reading the gospel lectionary for this Sunday about Jesus speaking to his disciples of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit who will be another piece of the trinitarian support system.  Jesus makes it clear that people who are not looking for the Advocate will not see him.

This begs the question, "Who truly does see the Spirit in the world?"  Rev. Harold Camping, the fundamentalist preacher who misjudged the rapture date last week was clearly wrong.  Most people would agree that Rev. Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas is wrong about his crusade to spew hate onto military families and people who are gay.  Why can people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ look at the same Bible and same world and come to such different conclusions about how the Spirit of God is present?  Have you ever been wrong about such spiritual matters?

Jesus tells his disciples that "the world cannot receive (the Advocate) because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in you."  (v. 17)

It would appear that in order to receive the Holy Spirit Jesus is saying that it is more than seeing or knowing.  It is about abiding.  The Christian life is more than an occasional glimpse of God.  It is about a relationship that is based on abiding with the Advocate...dwelling....hanging out with God.  To be a Christ Follower is much more than belief in a church's doctrines.  It is about nurturing our desire to be with God and keep Love's commandments.  It is about taking that occasional glimpse of grace and asking the Spirit to transform it into a gaze of grace.

May we all see God more clearly, love God more dearly, follow God more nearly, love God more nearly...day by day.  And may we always include how as a Church we can extend this invitation to others who may not be catching even a glimpse of Love in their world.

Grace Always,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Members at Palmer Fellowship

Last Sunday I was privileged to be invited to worship with our Palmer Fellowship.  They were excited about receiving three new members.  To a community of about 25 on Sunday morning this is a big deal.  They meet in the remodeled basement of Country Cuts in downtown Palmer.  Music wafted upward as I arrived.  The band which is quite good was rehearsing before worship.

Worship was rich and full.  The language of our faith was inclusive with a strong message of grace for all.  Christ was the center of our experience.  Pastor Tori Hicks spontaneously called me forward to participate in the new member vows which enabled me to add the fifth vow of "witness" which does not appear in the liturgy in our hymnal.  I do hope our pastors are including this important addition when they receive new members.  We need a conference conversation about what it means to support the church with our witness in Alaska.  What does "witness" mean for you?  And how do you "witness" to others of your faith?

Grace Always,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Showing Off Alaska

The tourists are coming!  The tourists are coming!  The old Alaska joke is that there are four seasons:  winter, winter, winter, and relatives!  My 80 year old parents and favorite aunt visited our state last week for Jeremy's college graduation.  I took a week to be their tour guide to Denali Park where the mountain showed her glory against a pale blue sky for us.  Then we went to Seward and a 4 hour tour of Resurrection Bay.  We saw caribou, ptarmigan, dall sheep, eagles, orcas, sea lions, tons of birds, and humpback whales.  For my Arizona aunt who had never seen such beauty it was the trip of a lifetime.

What do you see when you gaze out your window at your piece of the Alaskan landscape?  Because you have looked at that mountain, harbor, forest, or cityscape a zillion times does it ever draw you back to stop and appreciate the wonder of it all?

Surely it is God's desire to continuously call us back to look at this world both natural and human creation as God sees it with a sense of wonder and beauty and simple joy.  Let us take some moments today.  Let us create some time and space where we can breathe more slowly just so we can truly gaze at this amazing world God has given us, a scene we see nearly every day.

And thanks, Mom and Dad, for giving me a spirit of adventure that brought us to Alaska.

Grace Always,